The B2B buying experience had already changed long before the first reports of the pandemic. More interactions were moving to digital and buyers were skipping interactions with salespeople until the very end of the purchase cycle.
Like a lot of digital behaviors, COVID only accelerated the move to digital. B2B buyer expectations have changed dramatically. Marketers are being forced to evolve their tactics if they want to succeed in this new way of doing business. Smart marketers are not only evolving. They are embracing the new buyer journey.
Based on current trends, researchers predict the 80% of B2B sales interactions will take place on digital channels by 2025. Are you ready?
Here are the 5 ways B2B buyer expectations are changing.
1. B2B Buyers Don’t Want to Talk to You
Already, 87% of B2B tech buyers want self-service options with 70% comfortable making purchases over $50,000 without talking to a sales rep. They are more than willing to spend significantly higher amounts without ever engaging with a real person, either. More than a quarter of B2B buyers said they would spend up to half a million dollars and 11% said they are willing to spend $1 million using a self-serve platform.
If you are not delivering a robust self-serve option and personalized marketing for every stage of the buyer's journey, you may never get the chance to showcase what you do. A Gartner study shows that a third of B2B buyers want an entirely seller-free sales experience.
Answer these questions:
- How do you sell your products or services if a salesperson never gets to talk to a prospect?
- Is your B2B marketing platform creating the B2B demand generation to accelerate sales?
McKinsey research shows just how important this is: there is a 2X increased likelihood that you will be chosen as a primary supplier if you provide an outstanding digital experience. That starts with creating the ideal buyer experience.
2. It’s All About Creating the Ideal Buyer Experience
77% of B2B sales and marketing pros believe that personalized marketing experiences are the key to better customer relationships.
B2B account based marketing personalizes the buyer's journey to create a better experience. The right ABM solutions, coupled with a customized account based marketing execution can:
- Deliver an interactive experience that fuels discovery, education, and engagement
- Leverage data and intelligent content to optimize the buyer journey
- Create value and build trust
- Empower frontline markets with the tools they need to perform ABM at scale
- Provide the tools B2B buyers need for self-discovery
At Folloze, we see remarkable results from companies that utilize ABM solutions to engage buyers. Employing a buyer-centric approach can increase engagement by 4X, grow pipeline growth by 10X, and increase customer lifetime value by 5X.
3. B2B Buyers Want Speed, Transparency, and Expertise
I’m not sure anybody ever really wanted to be sold products. What they wanted was the information they needed to make informed business decisions.
In today’s digital environment, B2B buyers now have the tools at their disposal to find the information they need without talking to sales teams. If you are not providing that information and making it easy for them to find it, you are missing out on significant opportunities.
What do B2B customers want to see in their sales and marketing materials?
It’s time to let your expertise shine. By providing intelligent, educational content, you are providing the information buyers want and gaining trust in your ability to deliver what they need. It’s important to make sure all your marketing and sales channels are integrated to deliver a consistent message in everything you do.
When B2B buyers do engage with your sales team, they are likely to be entering into conversations at a much higher level than ever before. They’ve done their online research and will likely have specific, targeted questions. B2B sellers need to be prepared to demonstrate their product knowledge and answer the tough questions quickly.
At the same time, your content must be easy-to-find, transparent, and authentic. Marketers need to deliver personalized, high-value content with their ABM platform and remove friction when users do click through to your website.
4. Buyers Are Communicating on Multiple Platforms
The idea is simple but the execution is complex. B2B buyers are communicating across multiple platforms on different devices.
- Does your content deliver a seamless experience whether someone is interacting with you on their desktop, laptop, tablet, or smartphone?
- If they go to your website, do they have the option for live chat?
- Is someone monitoring your social media platforms?
- When B2B buyers engage, will they get a salesperson that can speak to them knowledgeably and have the answers?
The big question, though, is whether you can move seamlessly between platforms so the customer’s information moves with you. It’s not uncommon for a conversation to start on social or live chat, move to a website, result in an email exchange, and then end up in a phone call. The more seamless the buyer experience, the better chance you have to drive the buyer's journey.
Not only do you need a way to connect conversations across platforms, but you also need an easy way to track interactions to help gauge the ROI at each stage of the buyer's journey.
5. B2B Buyers Want More than Content. They Want Proof.
Nearly three-quarters of B2B buyers say they are looking for proof that your products or services will solve their problem. This goes well-beyond marketing platitudes. B2B buyers today are doing in-depth ROI analyses before making a purchase decision.
In many cases, B2B buyers are part of a buying committee or have multiple stakeholders in the decision chain. As such, they need proof that your products or services will solve their problems to build a business case to support their decision and get buy-in from other decision-makers.
Your content marketing strategy needs to identify prospects earlier in the sales cycle and provide content that delivers the proof they need.